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Thursday, 28 August 2014

College Football Week 1 Picks 2014 (August 28-31)

Last season proved to be a very successful one for the picks from College Football and the NFL, although I would have dearly loved to have had a much stronger Bowl Season when the profit from the season was almost cut in half.

It feels like only yesterday that the Florida State Seminoles were winning the National Championship, but eight months on and we are ready for the new College Play Off system as Week One gets ready to go. Unlike the NFL, there are usually more drastic changes in the College game with players concluding their time in school, while others make the early jump to the professional ranks.

This time we do see the 'big names' all being spoken about as potential National Champions, but the regular season does feel more important than ever. Even so, it would be a surprise if the winner of the SEC, Pac-12 Conferences are not making up two of the teams in the College Play Off with the other expected to be Florida State who should win the ACC.

That would mean either the Big Ten Champion or the Big 12 Champion being forced to sit out the inaugural Play Off system, which would bring its own questions if those two teams are unbeaten, or if there are three or more teams all with just one loss for the year.

I am interested to see how things play out this season as the College game gets set to begin a week before the start of the NFL season. The next nine months are expected to be fascinating all around as fans and players just want to see some live, meaningful action (I am not a fan of the NFL pre-season games at all).

Even fans on this side of the Atlantic are getting in on College Football this season with Ireland hosting the Croke Park Classic between Penn State and UCF on the first weekend of the season and it seems fans on this side of the pond can't get enough of American Football these days. Of course the NFL will be sending three games to Wembley Stadium during the course of the regular season too and it is simply time to start tossing the pigskin all around the field.

After a really disappointing 2012 season, the picks returned to the land of profit in 2013, but I am still hopeful of avoiding those weeks where 'everything' seems to go wrong. The 2012 season started horrifically with a number of backdoor covers as the 'big teams' rested players with scores in hand.

It is a long season so even a poor start isn't the end of the world, but let's face facts for a moment- it always feels good to get ahead of the curve and try to build momentum for another strong year.

Texas A&M Aggies @ South Carolina Gamecocks Pick: The College Football season kicks off with a huge SEC game between two teams that have lost a number of big Draft picks as well as some top names in both offensive and defensive positions.

The spread has come down since the opening lines with South Carolina favoured by less than double digits, but I was most interested in the total points and feel the 59.5 points offered at William Hill could be considered a touch low.

Both teams will feel their offenses are capable of putting up plenty of points and I think both Offensive Lines will feel they can win the war in the trenches that should set up the teams to move up and down the field.

Out of the two of them, it is South Carolina that are projected to have a bigger season, possibly even getting into the Play Offs at the end of the season and they should have prepared well enough to win the game. However, that may come while the total points are surpassed and I feel better about that than picking a team to cover the spread.

Tulane Green Wave @ Tulsa Golden Hurricane Pick: The two teams may both be moving into the American Atlantic Conference this season, but they are familiar with one another and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane are looking for a bit of revenge for an upset loss last season.

The experience for the coming season lands on the side of Tulsa and there is more expectation of them compared with Tulane in the move to a better Conference.

While Tulsa are expected to improve, Tulane are not expected to earn another winning record this time around after a number of upsets assisted them 7 wins in 2013. The Green Wave also have an awful record when travelling to Oklahoma having lost their last 4 visits and those have come at an average of 37 points per game.

Even in the Green Wave win last season, they were actually outgained in terms of yards but won the turnover battle and I am expecting the Golden Hurricane to win this one by a touchdown at least.

UTSA Roadrunners @ Houston Cougars Pick: A quick look at the rosters will show that these two teams are returning a vast majority of the starters from last season and both are expected to be amongst the favourites to win their respective Conferences.

The edge in the contest goes to Houston for a couple of reasons as they opening their brand new home and have an experienced John O'Korn starting under Center for this game.

The scoreline from last season may suggest Houston won easily, but they basically won the turnover battle and were outgained in terms of yards in that game. Eric Soza has left UTSA now so a new Quarter Back has to be broken in and I think there might be a few more troubles in the turnover department in this one.

Houston have a 12-5 record against the spread as the home favourite over the last three years and I will look for them to cover the double-digit spread.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Navy Midshipmen Pick: Braxton Miller is gone for the season so the Ohio State Buckeyes have been hurt badly in their bid for a place in the Play Offs after previously being favourites to do so.

However, this line seems to be a little over-reaction considering the difference in talent options for both teams, although Navy are very capable having brought back a lot of players with a lot experience.

Dropping 6 points off the original line does cover the Miller absence, but I think the Buckeyes will be well prepared for the triple option Navy run and I think they play with attitude to prove Ohio State is more than an injured Quarter Back. It won't be easy against a well disciplined Navy team, but a little over two touchdowns to cover should give the Buckeyes a chance to do so.

Alabama Crimson Tide v West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: There are some connections between the teams and there are doubts about what to expect from the Alabama Quarter Back situation, but the talent differential should lead to a fairly routine win for an annual National Championship favourite.

The neutral venue bring some more intrigue, as well as Alabama coming into the game having lost their last 2 games last season, but the Crimson Tide still have the best Receiving corps and Running Back corps and I think they wear down a Mountaineers team that is far off the recent heights of the Geno Smith era.

Alabama have won their last 2 opening games by an average of 26 points per game and the Mountaineers were beaten by 26 points the last time they met an SEC team. West Virginia are 1-6 against the spread in their last 7 non-Conference games and the Crimson Tide could make a big statement.

Florida Atlantic Owls @ Nebraska Cornhuskers Pick: As much as Bo Pelini may say that he is not interested in the 'revenge' angle for his brother Carl, it may make him a little more hesitant to call off the dogs even if Nebraska get into a big lead.

They should have the talent edges in the game and I expect the Cornhuskers are going to be dominate with their running game and be able to score a few Touchdowns in this one.

At this time of the year, teams can decide to rest starters when the game is in hand, but I think Nebraska keep them in a little longer, while the Cornhuskers were surprised with a home loss to Wyoming last season which should keep the focus together.

Florida Atlantic do battle hard, but Nebraska should see enough of the ball to cover.

California Golden Bears @ Northwestern Wildcats Pick: Out of these two teams, there is a real feeling that Northwestern are going to have a breakout season and really cause some problems for teams in the Big Ten and I think they will prove to be too strong for a California Golden Bears team that should be a lot better than last season even if the record might not reflect that.

I expect Northwestern will have more success with the ball in their hands and might win the turnover battle again that could see them pull away from the Golden Bears in a similar manner to last season.

Sonny Dykes will be hoping California can throw the ball with more consistency, but that could potentially be going up against the strength of the Northwestern Defense and might also lead to those killer turnovers.

It is a big number, but one that Northwestern can cover.

Georgia Bulldogs v Clemson Tigers Pick: The winner of this game is going to be a real contender in the National Championship discussion, although both Georgia and Clemson are in Divisions with a real powerhouse that is expected to reach the final four.

They can't worry about that for now as they get set to meet in a neutral venue, but one that should have more Georgia fans in the building.

There is a little more solidity behind the Georgia team in my opinion thanks to Todd Gurley, although this Offensive Line has to use all of their experience that they have gathered against a fierce Clemson Defensive Line.

However, I did think the Bulldogs would be more than a 7.5 point favourite and I like them to win and cover.

Florida State Seminoles v Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick: Florida State are the National Champions and they have every chance to back that up this season with Jameis Winston still at Quarter Back.

This looks a big spread to cover in Jerry's World, but the Seminoles have the experience and might only be affected by lack of effort if they feel they just need to come in and think the Oklahoma State Cowboys are going to roll over.

The Cowboys have only brought back 8 starters and it is a big task to take on the National Champions and I think the Seminoles go into the game with the ability to really crack on and show why they are such a favourite to repeat.

LSU Tigers v Wisconsin Badgers Pick: Simple reason for this pick to be honest- SEC over Big Ten and I do think the LSU Tigers are better than some will think too.

The Tigers have lost key pieces of their team, but they have more returning starters than the Wisconsin Badgers.

Both teams have their doubts as you just don't know what inexperience will bring to the table, but SEC over Big Ten is a comfortable position for me in what looks like a small squad.

MY PICKS: South Carolina Gamecocks-Texas A&M Aggies Over 59.5 Total Points @ 1.92 William Hill (1 Unit)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane - 6 Points @ 1.95 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Houston Cougars - 10 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 14.5 Points @ 1.90 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Alabama Crimson Tide - 23.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Nebraska Cornhuskers - 21.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Northwestern Wildcats - 10 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 10 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles - 19 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
LSU Tigers - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)
Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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